Fancy a pint (or equiv.)?

Back in August 2020 – when Covid deaths were running at 9-10 a day, I was unvaccinated (like everyone else), the pubs had only just reopened and I was mostly drinking at home – I came up with this table as a device for comparing beers of different sizes and strengths.

Third 24
275 ml 35
Half 36
330 ml 42
US 12 oz 45
440 ml 56
US pint 60
500 ml 63
Pint 72

So you’ve had a 440ml can of something at 7% and a 330ml bottle of a 9%er – what’s that in pints? Simple: it’s the equivalent of a pint at ((56 * 7) + (42 * 9)) / 72, or 770 / 72, which is very slightly more than 768 / 72, which is 10.75, so call it 10.8.

(Well, I say ‘simple’.)

Now, I’m triple-jabbed, Covid deaths are running at 90-100 a day, it’s too damn cold to sit outside and I’m mostly drinking at home. And I wonder if that table – marvel of concision and information-density though it is – could be improved. Perhaps we could focus on the main can/bottle sizes and redo the whole thing as fractions of a pint?

275 ml 35/72
330 ml 7/12
US 12 oz 5/8
440 ml 7/9
500 ml 7/8

Then how about extending that into a table of pint equivalents for different sizes? The principle’s simple: 500 ml at 6% is the equivalent of a pint at (6% * 7 / 8) = 5.3%; 440 ml at 6% is the equivalent of a pint at (6% * 7 / 9) = 4.7%. I’m limiting the table to (strengths corresponding to) the range from 3.4% to 6.8% – over 3 and under 7, broadly speaking – because that’s still the kind of strength I’m looking for from a single beer. (Not that I don’t occasionally buy beers outside that range, but they do tend to hang around for longer.)

Here goes then. The numbers along the top are the strength of the beer; the numbers in the table are the equivalent strength of a pint delivering the same amount of alcohol.

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
275 ml 3.4 3.9 4.4 4.9 5.4 5.8
330 ml 3.5 4.1 4.7 5.3 5.8 6.4
US 12 oz 3.8 4.4 5 5.6 6.3 6.9
440 ml 3.9 4.7 5.4 6.2
500 ml 3.5 4.4 5.3 6.1

From which we learn that

  • 275 ml bottles (7%+) are good for the upper reaches of loopy juice but not for much else.
  • 330 ml (6-11%) is ideal for anything less than entirely sessionable; also, a lot of those punchy-looking Belgian beers are really fairly weedy when you take the bottle size into account. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
  • Those American 355 ml bottles… they’re fine, too.
  • Conversely, 500 ml (4-7%) is ideal for anything you’d drink when you’ve got a thirst on.
  • 440 ml (5-8%) is a bit betwixt and between – and besides, in practice people are putting stuff that’s much too strong into big cans (10% at 440 ml is a pint at 8.6%, which is… not a pint).
  • And don’t even get me started on 660 and 750 ml.

Admittedly, it’s not currently possible to filter the beers on any of my friendly local Webstores by strength and container size, but a table like this is handy as an aide memoire. And it’ll be handy until I’m mostly ordering over the bar again, which hopefully will be sooner than it currently looks like.

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